Top Ten

November 7, 2014

New initiative to enhance social innovation and entrepreneurship on PSE campuses

A new philanthropic initiative was launched yesterday to encourage students to become social entrepreneurs. The $10 M RECODE initiative, a collaboration between representatives of the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors, is intended to support the development of social innovation and entrepreneurship zones on Canadian PSE campuses, to operate a national challenge and collaboration platform that will be available to all PSE faculty and students across Canada, and to advance society’s ability to tackle social and environmental challenges through collaboration and innovation. 14 PSE institutions have been awarded matching grants from the first round of RECODE funding. Pierre Dumouchel, Director General of recipient institution École de technologie supérieure, said, “RECODE is helping ETS lead the way in training 21st-century engineers, ensuring that they move forward conscious of their environment and their own capacity to offer innovative solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow.” RECODE is an initiative of the J W McConnell Family Foundation. J W McConnell News Release | RECODE Website

UTM officially opens new Innovation Complex

The University of Toronto Mississauga officially opened its new Innovation complex on Wednesday. The 4-storey, 6,300-square-metre facility will serve as the home for UTM’s Institute for Management and Innovation, as well as the Departments of Economics and Management, the Office of the Registrar, and the Li Koon Chun Finance Learning Centre. The building is designed to meet LEED silver standards and offers case-study rooms, behavioural research labs, and a rotunda for gathering and studying. “The Innovation Complex provides a magnificent space for our students to interact with and learn from local industry and government partners, and to develop entrepreneurial and leadership skills,” said uToronto President Meric Gertler. The $35-M project was funded in part by a $10 M investment from the City of Mississauga. UTM News Release

New Centre of Teaching and Learning created at Trent

Trent University has announced the creation of the new Trent Centre for Teaching and Learning, which will serve as a “hub of creative thought and activity around issues of radical pedagogy, interactive development of courses, as well as innovative uses of technology.” The centre will support teaching innovations, research on teaching and learning, and help faculty create personalized, collaborative learning spaces for students. “The Centre for Teaching and Learning aims to promote deep discussion about teaching across the wide range of instructors, faculty, staff and students at Trent,” said Elaine Scharfe, Dean of Graduate Studies. Cathy Bruce will serve as inaugural Director of the Centre. “Our students, today and in the future, need dynamic learning spaces that enable the co-construction of knowledge and creativity with a wide range of learning tools and technologies that are customized to the learner. At Trent, we don’t want just to ‘keep up with change.’ We consider ourselves a collective agent of change itself,” said Bruce. Trent News Release

uCalgary top school for oil and gas CEOs

A new study out of the US has found that the University of Calgary has produced more chief executives for publicly-traded US and international oil and gas companies than any other PSE institution in North America. 22% of US executives had received undergraduate degrees from uCalgary, with 18% receiving degrees from the University of Alberta and 10% from the University of Saskatchewan. On the international list, 7% had uCalgary degrees and 6% studied at uAlberta. 82 of 277 oil and gas companies had executives who had degrees from Canada, compared with 101 from the US. Jim Dewald, Dean of the Haskayne School of Business at uCalgary, was surprised but pleased with the results. “I guess I’m still in the mindset that the business community is run by people who came here from Ontario or somewhere further east so I would assume that they would have received their education there. But it’s clearly turning and that’s kind of exciting for us,” he said. Calgary Herald

Conference Board assesses economic impact of PSE in Canada

A new report from the Conference Board of Canada describes PSE in the country as “a growth industry.” According to the report, the real GDP of Canada’s PSE institutions increased by 17% between 2007 and 2013, with full-time enrolments increasing at a greater pace than the overall growth in the Canadian population. The Conference Board says that Canada’s PSE institutions generate as much as $77 B in indirect economic activity, after taking into account multiplier effects. The report also says that nearly 700,000 direct and indirect jobs are attributable to PSE institutions’ spending. Off-campus student spending generates as much as $17.5–$20 B in surrounding communities, and visitor spending associated with PSE has a $2 B economic impact. Researchers found that the net present value of combined private and social returns for a Canadian who achieves a postsecondary credential is $220,365 over a lifetime for males and $148,026 for females; males with bachelors' degrees in the humanities or graduate degrees may realize lower returns. Full Report

More Canadian universities outsourcing mental health counselling

As more attention is given to mental health issues on campus, the practice of outsourcing mental health services to third-party organizations has become a controversial topic. A recent article in University Affairs explores the arrangements that several Canadian PSE institutions have with providers of counselling services, a practice still fairly uncommon in Canada. UPEI formed a partnership this year with a private mental health services provider, in order for students to have 24/7 access to support in multiple languages. Brock University has an agreement with a third-party family counselling agency that oversees hiring and supervision of on-campus counsellors. Brock retains a degree of control over who is hired and has access to student records. But, many professionals in the student services sector question the use of these outside providers, as they cause a disconnect between the university and the struggling student. A white paper is currently being prepared by the Canadian Organization of University College Health (COUCH) and the Canadian University and College Counselling Association (CUCCA) to determine best practices around outsourcing mental health services. University Affairs

The rise of the mini-MBA

Although they have been around for several decades, the mini-MBA is becoming increasingly popular for those working professionals who feel a full MBA or EMBA won’t fit into busy schedules. Many mini-MBA programs are condensed versions of a school’s full MBA program, providing targeted education in business and leadership skills. Although tuition varies widely depending on the institution and program, it is generally significantly lower than for the MBA program, which currently averages $24,168 per year in Canada. One career strategist cautions that occasionally, employers may view the mini-MBA as “a quick-win … [suggesting] that a candidate is not fully committed to pursuing an MBA.” She does, however, recognize that in general, pursuing any advanced education can show initiative and ambition. “The mini-MBA is our recognition that our executive audience has changed, and is demanding more sophistication than was the case in past years,” says Rhona Berengut, Director of the mini-MBA program at York University’s Schulich School of Business. Globe and Mail

UNBC offers information sessions to protect young scholars from predatory publishing

The library at the University of Northern British Columbia is offering an information session to graduate students about the dangers of predatory publishing. These publishers, often touting accessibility and quick turn-around times, will publish an article for a fee; however, the risks associated with these predatory publishers are many. Academic reputation to a young scholar is paramount, and the connection to a known predatory publisher could be viewed negatively by potential employers. In addition, although these publishers promote Open Access publishing, once they have received their fees, they may not follow through with the actual publication or may put the article behind a pay wall. At UNBC, librarians encourage graduate students to think carefully about the publishers they are looking at and to seek advice from librarians if they are unsure about which publications are reputable. BCcampus News

PSE institutions face challenges around reporting of sexual assaults

New Title IX regulations in the US highlight some of the issues faced by PSE institutions around reporting sexual assault. The new rules require faculty to file a report if a student confides in them about sexual assault. However, students often assume that their interactions with professors are confidential and may not expect these discussions to become matters of record. Issues of responsibility around reporting incidents of sexual assault or harassment have also been in the news in Canada recently in the wake of the scandal involving former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi. Allegations published by the Toronto Star indicate that Ghomeshi had a reputation for such behaviour when he was a student at York University; a former student has also claimed that Ghomeshi “fondled” him while Ghomeshi was President of the York Federation of Students. Moreover, a former Western University student and current faculty member told the Star that journalism students at the school were told that internships on Ghomeshi’s show were “off limits” due to Ghomeshi’s behaviour. The institutions in question say that they have no records of any such events, but such incidents often go unreported; a Statistics Canada survey found that fewer than 10% of sexual assault cases are reported to police. None of the allegations against Ghomeshi have been proven in court. The Chronicle of Higher Education | Toronto Star (1) | Toronto Star (2) | National Post

uTexas System unveils plans for major CBE initiative spanning high school to med school

The University of Texas System has launched an expansive new competency-based education (CBE) program that will involve multiple institutions across the state and, if all goes according to plan, will span from middle or high school to medical school. The initiative reportedly makes the Texas system the first in the US to introduce a system-wide CBE program of such a scope, though the University of Wisconsin System has also received permission to implement a smaller-scale program. The Texas program will focus on industry-aligned, personalized degrees and certificates that will be delivered via a “mobile-first” strategy centred on smartphones and tablets. The first CBE programs, scheduled to launch in fall 2015, will include STEM and medical science courses—areas in which Texas has significant labour market demand.  “All students are held to clearly defined and rigorous expectations, but each follows a customized path that responds and adapts based on individual learning strengths, challenges and goals. And students can earn credit for prior learning and move at their own speed,” said Chancellor Francisco G Cigarroa. Inside Higher Ed